Over the past 20 or so years I have learned a great deal about mind and body, and how they work with each other. I not only take care of people, massage them, teach them Pilates and Tai Chi, and strength training. I also observe.
Without exception, people usually first begin coming to me for help because they have a need. It may be a need to lose weight, or a need to regain strength, or become more flexible. Whatever that need is, there is no simple way to “fix them up”. In our society, we have become accustomed to thinking if we can just get a pill to take for whatever ails us, we will get better. The problem is, most of the pills we take are not designed to make us well, rather they are designed to mask pain. In the process, we will sometimes feel lethargic, thus we move about less. Because the pain will mostly still be there, in the background, it takes a toll on our physical being, as well as our emotional state.
By the time I get to work with people, that toll can either be in the early stages, or as is often the case, much more advanced. In any case, I can help people regain their physical strength, and I don’t need a report in a Medical Journal to tell me that without exception, once I have helped the pain to subside, helped my clients regain their strength, invariably two other things will happen; One, they will have better mental clarity and two they will be more stable and positive emotionally.
Still, it is always reassuring when major publications validate my personal finding. Here is an article that was printed in the LA Time this recently:
, By James S. Fell, Special to the Los Angeles Times
February 13, 2012
This is how they describe the details of what occurs:
“The details of what’s going on inside the skull are fascinating. Voss explained that MRIs of people in their 60s showed increases in gray and white matter after just six months of exercise. This happens in the prefrontal and temporal lobes, sites that usually diminish with age. With exercise, Voss says, they grow.
Voss also explained that the hippocampus area of the brain, key for memory formation, shrinks 1% to 2% per year in those older than 60, but when people in this age group begin a fitness regimen, it grows by 1% to 2% instead.
Beyond growing one’s brain, exercise improves the ability of different parts of the brain to work together, Voss says. It talks to itself better, but not in a multiple-personality kind of way.
Exactly how hard were they pushing these over-60s? I could see how the excitement would be curtailed if you had to become a power-lifting marathoner to reap the benefits. But that’s not the case. Simple brisk walking for 45 minutes three times a week gets results.
Going much beyond that won’t give your brain much more, Voss added: “There definitely is a law of diminishing returns. The difference between zero and moderate exercise is significant, whereas the difference between moderate and high exercise is much less so.”
What’s definitely clear is this: Sitting = bad.
Exercise also can help if you’ve got a genetically programmed Alzheimer’s time bomb ticking away in your noggin. In 2000, Dutch researchers published a study of 347 men, some of whom were genetically prone to Alzheimer’s due to a certain gene variant. Adjusting for a number of confounding factors such as smoking, drinking and education, the researchers found that the inactive couch potatoes with the brain-wasting gene variant were four times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than the workout warriors who carried the trait.”
I can corroborate these findings based upon personal experience. My elder patients almost always improve under my care because we don’t just sit. Whenever possible, we go for walks, we are out in the fresh air and we move. For my younger clients, the results are even more immediate. Muscle tone will increase quickly, inches will fall away, and clothes fit better. You can see the smiles growing each time we meet.